If you have a few weeks or a month, these trails are to paddling what the Long Trail is to hiking. Before setting out make sure you are prepared, have the right experience and equipment and know what you are in for.
The Connecticut River Paddler’s Trail
The Connecticut River Paddler’s Trail traces the river from Quebec all the way to its outlet on Long Island Sound and lists access points, campsites and portages along the way. For a short trip, spend four days on one of the more remote stretches in the northeasternmost corner of Vermont, a 70-mile paddle from Canaan to Gilman with views of Mt. Monadnock and the Great North Woods. connecticutriverpaddlerstrail.org
Lake Champlain Paddler’s Trail
The Lake Champlain Paddler’s Trail runs the length of the lake with more than 600 campsites (many, situated on private property are for the exclusive use of through-paddlers) at more than 40 locations on the New York and Vermont coasts and in the islands in between. While the broad lake can be rough, the trail does offer some protected sections that can make for an enjoyable weekend trip. Paddle out from St. Albans or South Hero and camp at Vermont State Park sites on Burton, Knight and Woods Islands. In the southern waters, you can camp and put in at Button Bay State Park (which also has cabins) and follow the trail 48 miles south to Whitehall, stopping to camp out at Five Mile Point in Shoreham, Vt. To use the trail (or even to get a map and permission to camp), you have to join the Lake Champlain Committee ($45 for general membership) but know it goes toward protecting and maintaining both the lake and the trail. lakechamplaincommittee.com
Completed in 2006, the Northern Forest Canoe Trail is a 740-mile paddling trail that runs from Old Forge, N.Y. to Fort Kent, Maine and follows traditional travel routes used by Native American Tribes and guides. It claims to be the longest inland water trail in the nation. Thru-paddlers paddle 23 rivers and streams, 59 lakes and ponds and go through 45 communities in New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Quebec and Maine. There are 65 portages, making for more than 70 miles of on-land travel. You might camp at a lean-to in the High Peaks Wilderness of the Adirondacks, or at a campsite that abuts a pasture in Northern Vermont, see moose in the Maine Woods or run whitewater on the Androscoggin River in New Hampshire. Nearly half of the trail is in Maine. To date, 113 people have paddled the trail in a single expedition, with most taking anywhere from 30 to 50 days to complete it. For one Vermonter’s stories from the trail, check out “Peter Macfarlane’s Epic Journeys,” here. For maps, trip planning tools or suggested section-paddles, visit northernforestcanoetrail.org.
Looking for a weekend trip or an overnight? Check out these 10 Great Paddling Trips from Easy to Epic.
Featured Photo Caption: Checking a Northern Forest Canoe Trail map on Maine’s Allagash. Photo by Brian Mohr/EmberPhoto